Pocket Transits


One of the most popular series of posts I did on my old blog site were related to the Brunton pocket transit. This device – a large pocket compass with a built in level and clinometer – could be found in the pocket or on the belt of geologists, map makers, mining engineers, hydrologists, and foresters across North America and around the world. It is a tool that has no equal for rough field survey work, and the fact that it survives essentially unchanged from when it was first patented in 1894 is a testament to the ingenuity of its inventor David Brunton.

When I first wrote about pocket transits back in 2010 there was a wonderful web resource for collectors and enthusiasts titled Brunton Pocket Transits that was compiled and hosted by William J. Hudson.  Mr. Hudson did an outstanding job of researching the history of David Brunton and the development of his pocket transit.  Mr. Hudson also started a serial number project, cataloging the serial number ranges and production dates from different manufacturers to allow pocket transit owners to better establish the production date for their instruments.

Unfortunately in 2012 Mr. Hudson’s site went off-line and many feared this resource was lost forever. Well, with the world wide web nothing is really lost forever. I was recently contacted by one reader who was able to find a full archive of the site on the web archiving site Wayback Machine. I have since been able to contact Mr. Hudson and he’s given gracious permission to use any and all information that used to be hosted on his site.

I was able to convert most of the web pages from the Brunton Pocket Transits web archive to PDF format and I’ve transcribed Mr. Hudson’s serial number data into spreadsheet format for easier updating and sharing.

All of this information, including much of the text from my original blog posting, is now available from the Brunton Pocket Transit link under the Resources link at the top of the page.

If you have any information you’d like to pass along, including information about specific pocket transits you’d like to have included in the serial number archive feel free to contact me using the contact information at the About link at the top of the page.

– Brian

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